U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk greets the crowd in Wheeling, Ill. as he accepts the Republican nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat, on Tuesday Feb. 2, 2010.
Mark Kirk is pushing hard for his small business credentials.
"[We need to] put Americans back to work," Kirk said at a news conference in Chicago. He was surrounded at the press conference by 10 small business advocates.
Kirk said his "wish list' includes: lowering energy costs and protecting secret ballots in union elections."
The moderate congressman is in a battle for the senate seat once held by Barack Obama and is trying to appeal to moderate republicans and conservatives alike.
Recent polling puts Dem. challenger Alexi Giannoulias ahead of Kirk by about seven percentage points.
But Kirk doesn't seem fazed by Giannoulias' early lead. He said his challenger will need to answer questions about his family's Broadway Bank before the election is over.
"I worry about the possible collapse of the bank," Kirk said. "[It will be] a signature issue of the campaign."